Ashland High senior , 18, was named the Oregon State Elks Association's "Most Valuable Female Student" this week, garnering $6,200 in scholarship money and qualifying for national competition for additional scholarship cash.

Lowey, representing Ashland Lodge

944, won out over seven other female student winners from southwestern Oregon Elks lodges to earn a trip to the state competition, held last weekend in Hood River.

There, she bested female winners from six other Elks districts for a share of more than $19,000 in scholarship prizes awarded by the state association.

Amber will receive $2,200 from the state association, plus a minimum of $4,000 from the Elks National Foundation as a state winner.

Her "brochure" &

which includes scholastic records, letters of recommendation, records of volunteer and leadership activities and an original essay &

will be forwarded to national Elks headquarters, where she will compete with 250 other girls for $2.3 million in national scholarship money, shared among 500 winners.

Although guaranteed $4,000, she could win more &

students placing in the top 18 positions receive from $8,000 to as much as $60,000 for a first-place finish.

Qualifying students from more than 2,000 local lodges compete at district and state levels to reach the national finals, according to Nick Kenyon, Oregon State Elks Association scholarship chairman.

"Overall, Elks will give $10 million in scholarship money this year, counting all the local, district, state and national awards," Kenyon noted.

Ashland Lodge

944 has aided local students since its inception, and has created an endowed fund to generate a stable income stream for the awards, said Walt Hoffbuhr, local scholarship chairman.

This year, the local lodge gave more than $6,300 to six students &

three boys and three girls &

with Amber gaining the top girls'prize of $1,500. By winning the Southwest District top prize, she picked up another $1,600.

Boys and girls compete separately. Ashland High School's Cory A. Hultz was named top male student.

Amber, the daughter of Laura Lowey Smith and Blake Lowey of Ashland, is a National Merit Scholar semi-finalist and a four-year varsity soccer player at AHS.

As well as maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average, she has scored in the 99th percentile nationwide on her SAT exams, including a perfect score in mathematics.

Amber has participated in the local Relay for Life and raised money for the Jackson County animal shelter, and she solicits funds for Alzheimer's research and care.

Her essay examined her experiences in an outreach program teaching developmentally challenged and disabled AHS students soccer, and her personal realization of the value of courage in the face of adversity.

Amber has applied to top-tier universities across the country, although she has yet to decide on a college.